The Varnish, Downtown L.A.
Los Angeles , California
Tel: 213 622 9999
Concierge.com's insider take:
You'll have to search out the Varnish, a speakeasy-style lounge hidden at the back of the L.A. institution Cole's French Dip restaurant. (The clue is the picture of a cocktail glass on its heavy oak door.) Co-owned by Sasha Petraske (of New York's Milk & Honey and Little Branch) and L.A. nightlife guru Cedd Moses, the Varnish's downtown locale and limited seating capacity (no parties larger than six) help maintain its rep as a classy boîte where cool kids of all ages come for the mellow scene. The tiny wood-paneled space—once a storage room for Cole's—has a handful of café tables and banquettes, but we suggest you grab a standing spot at the leather-padded bar, where you can watch star bartenders Eric Alperin and Marcos Tellos's meticulous (and lengthy) preparation of cocktails containing freshly squeezed juices and house-made syrups. They taste all the better for it.—Audrey Davidow
Open Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays 8 pm to 2 am, Wednesdays through Fridays 7 pm to 2 am.